The biggest deal in AFL history is complete, with a mammoth six first-round picks, last year’s No.1 selection and a premiership star all trading places on Monday night.
But of course the bigger the deal, the harder it is to evaluate. So who wins the four-team mega-deal?
We won’t know that for a while – but we can do our best, using the AFL Draft Value Index to approximate what everyone spent, and betting odds to estimate where future picks will land. Here’s our breakdown.
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Draft hopeful’s touching act during 2k | 00:36
IN: 1, 53 and 57
OUT: 3, 12 and 32*
* = Collingwood’s future second
How does it look based on draft points? They spend the equivalent value of pick 29 to trade up from 3 to 1.
Analysis: This seems like an easy win for the Giants based on their situation.
They came into Monday morning holding four first-round picks – 3, 12, 15 and 18 – plus the first pick of the second round, 19. They already had the bulk selections any club would love to possess.
They needed to consolidate that hand, and this did just that, paying the equivalent of a mid-second round pick to move up and land the best kid in Australia (not named Will Ashcroft).
That’ll very likely be key forward Aaron Cadman, given there were going to be plenty of midfielders on offer at 3 if the Giants had just remained there. Instead they can nab Cadman, and then pluck the best-of-the-rest with 15, 18 and 19.
Five top-20 picks is great, but four is more than enough, so it’s almost impossible to be critical here.
GWS interested in Hawk O’Meara | 02:43
IN: Picks 2, 3, 11*, 40 and 43
OUT: Jason Horne-Francis, 1 and 45**
* = Port’s future first
** = Fremantle’s future third
How does it look based on draft points? The Kangaroos get 3,540 points of value, worth more than Pick 1 (3000 points), but they’re relying on Port Adelaide not playing finals next year for this to really work out.
Analysis: If we take the Kangaroos at face value, this deal makes quite a bit of sense – and could end up being the best thing for them.
“There are three players at the top we rate very evenly,” list manager Brady Rawlings said on Monday. “This gives us the opportunity to take two, rather than one of our best three.”
Brisbane will land Will Ashcroft, whenever he receives a bid (and it’s warranted at Pick 1), while GWS is believed to hold interest in key forward Aaron Cadman.
That quote above implies the Kangaroos had Cadman in their top three, but also like two other prospects – presumably two of George Wardlaw, Elijah Tsatas or Harry Sheezel, based on publicly available draft rankings. The former two are midfielders, the latter a medium forward.
So let’s take the absolute, most positive spin: the Roos are trading Horne-Francis and Cadman for two of Wardlaw/Tsatas/Sheezel, plus whoever they get with their extra first-rounder next year. Maybe that’s an extra top-10 pick, and next year they’ll have picks 1 and 8, and this’ll all work out in 2026 when they’re a juggernaut.
But trading out two Pick 1s is just such bad optics, and if they’re getting pick 16 back from the Power next year instead, it’d be very hard for the deal to work out… unless one of Wardlaw/Tsatas/Sheezel is a game-changing superstar. That’s the thing with the draft, you never know!
North great rages over Pick 1 deal | 03:31
IN: Jason Horne-Francis, Junior Rioli, 32* and 45*
OUT: 8, 11***, 29***, 43, 47*** and 57
* = Collingwood’s future second
** = Fremantle’s future third
*** = Port’s future first, second and third
How does it look based on draft points? They spent the equivalent of 3,478 points on Horne-Francis and Rioli. You could say they took Horne-Francis with pick 1 and then Rioli with pick 37, with the latter sounding like a steal. It’s a definite win if they play finals next year and give North worse picks than listed above.
Analysis: Like Katy Perry sang about, they got what they wanted when they wanted it.
In effect the Power have sacrificed two drafts here, but if they’re any good next year, it’ll both work out on the points, and be a tick of approval for their aggressive trade strategy.
As Kangaroos champion David King explained on Fox Footy’s Trading Day on Monday evening, you’re more likely to get a sure thing at the top of the draft than in the middle of the first round – which is where the Power’s pick this year falls, and where at worst their 2023 pick should fall.
“The picks starting at pick 8, it starts to get a bit wobbly in my opinion toward the middle to back end of the first round, you know what’s there one, two, three, four, five (top prospects). I think history tells us that,” King said on Fox Footy.
“(List boss) Jason Cripps and Port Adelaide, they’ve won the trade period already.
“To land Horne-Francis and not pay a massive price, Junior Rioli – a specialist half-forward, they are hard to find and have a big impact on your football club. Ok, they’ve lost a few future picks or gone backwards some spots, but that’s an outstanding effort.
“It gives them a chance next year to win the flag.”
He added the deal makes sense because of Port Adelaide’s list, which – despite missing finals in 2022 – is built to win now, not in a few years’ time.
“I think this is why there’s an urgency there – (Travis) Boak 34, (Charlie) Dixon 32, (Tom) Jonas and (Scott) Lycett are 30-plus as well. They’re for the now,” King said.
“They’ve nearly said, ‘OK we’ve got to fast-track the next wave coming so you bracket Horne-Francis with Butters, Rozee and Marshall as the next wave’.
“It’s now for Port – this is Ken Hinkley’s flag opportunity right here, right now in 2023.”
Port ‘wins trade period’ in mega deal | 02:07
IN: 8, 12, 29* and 47**
OUT: 2, 40 and Junior Rioli
* = Port’s future second
** = Port’s future third
How does it look based on draft points? They get the equivalent value of pick 23 in exchange for Rioli.
Analysis: The Rioli value sounds about right, but the risk here is the splitting of the No.2 pick into two mid-first rounders.
After the Ashcroft bid at the top, the Eagles will have picks 9 and 13, as compared to pick 3.
There are many reasons you would want to do this. For one, the draft is still a bit of a crapshoot; you want as many chances as possible to pick the best talent. It’s much harder to miss on two picks than miss on one.
And in West Coast’s specific case, there’s a bit of the go-home factor to consider. While they are a powerful club and generally keep their players, it’s still less risky to take a WA prospect over a Victorian one if all other things are equal.
In the 2022 draft’s case, the top prospects are pretty much all Victorian, with the best WA kids not popping up in most draft rankings until the back-end of the top 10. And that’s exactly where the Eagles now will be picking.
So instead of reaching for the best local boy at 3, they can take someone like East Perth key defender Jedd Busslinger if he’s available at 9, then Swan Districts midfielder Elijah Hewett at 13. (That’d be the ideal scenario, anyway.)
But it’s still a risk. Maybe those WA kids are gone and they’re taking interstaters anyway. And the tippy-top talent goes at the top of the draft for a reason – roughly 80% of all top-five draftees have played 100-plus games, while 59% of kids taken between 6-10 have reached that mark.